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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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2018-2020 Subcommittee: The Use of Water in Animal Production, Slaughter, and Processing

Subcommittee Members

Dr. Peggy Cook and Dr. Omar Oyarzabal:  Working Group Chairs

  • Dr. Gary Acuff
  • Dr. Aaron Asmus
  • Ms. Vanessa Coffman
  • Dr. James Dickson
  • Dr. Carolyn Hovde
  • Dr. Lee Ann Jaykus
  • Dr. Mohammad Koohmaraie
  • Dr. Francisco Zagmutt
  • Dr. Balasubrahmanyam Kottapalli
  • Dr. Margie Lee
  • Dr. Evelyne Mbandi
  • Dr. John Ruby
  • Dr. Scott Stillwell
  • Dr. Robert Tauxe

Executive Summary

Water is an essential part of food animal slaughter and further processing, and current practices use large volumes of water.  For various reasons, the food industry’s access to clean and inexpensive water is increasingly a challenge.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) seeks evaluation by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Food (NACMCF) on the best ways to assure access to high quality and safe water sources while at the same time reducing water consumption. 

Background

Water requirements for federal establishments slaughtering and processing meat and poultry products are covered in the sanitation regulations in 9 CFR 416.2(g)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6).  Water used in food processing must comply with 40 CFR 141, the National Primary Drinking Water regulations, if a municipal drinking water supply is used.  If a private well is used, food processors must certify and document potability.

There is a long history to these regulations, and their stringency may lead to unnecessarily high water consumption.  At the same time, there are alternatives to water for use in various phases of slaughter and processing, and it is possible that water of differing quality may be appropriate at different phases of slaughter and processing.  For example, 9 CFR 416.2(g)(4) limits the use of reconditioned water even though some recent technological capabilities may provide reconditioned water of quality and safety exceeding that of earlier technologies.  A regulatory structure that allows for consideration of technological Improvements can provide incentives for industry to utilize water in a more sustainable manner while maintaining safety.

Climate, weather, and availability trends increasingly challenge the food industry’s access to clean and inexpensive water.  Food regulatory agencies must keep these restrictions in mind as they evaluate current and future regulatory requirements associated with water use. Specifically, FSIS must provide scientifically justifiable alternatives to current water consumption practices in the industry. New guidance regarding the acceptability of multiple water sources and treatment technologies in the processing of meat, poultry, and egg products will provide industry with viable alternatives that use less water with associated economic and sustainability advantages, while providing equivalent quality and safety.

Charge Questions for the Subcommittee

FSIS requests guidance from the National Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) to address alternatives to current water usage practices, guidelines, and regulations for FSIS-regulated products to help clarify the following issues:

  1. What are the current water usage practices for slaughterhouses and processors?  At which steps might water conservation or alternative water sources be feasible?
     
  2. What are the available technological strategies for water reuse, recycling, reconditioning, and reclamation, and how might FSIS-regulated facilities employ them? Is a fully closed water system reasonable as an ultimate goal?
     
  3. Water contaminants can be microbiological, chemical/toxicological, and nutrient in nature. Identify these contaminants and how their presence and concentrations in potable water (municipal and well-sourced) compare to those found in water treated using the reuse, recycling, reconditioning, and reclamation technologies identified in (2) above.Identify the risks posed by these contaminants for various steps in food production and processing.
     
  4. How do residual contaminants in water used for animal production, slaughter, and processing affect product quality and safety?What are the quality implications and public health risks associated with contaminants at levels anticipated for reconditioned water? How might FSIS and industry best assess those implications and risks? How do residual contaminants in water affect the functions of various materials added to water used in all stages of food production and processing, such as feeds, medicines, and antimicrobials? For example, consider the effects of trace pharmaceuticals on animal husbandry, and the effects of iron and “hard water” on phosphate-based interventions.
     
  5. What are the best ways to assure and/or monitor the quality and safety of alternatively sourced water used in FSIS-regulated operations?
     
  6. Are there special considerations for foods that are produced entirely within water (e.g., fish), and if so, what are they?
     
  7. Flooding can contaminate animals and water sources with human sewage and farm waste. What precautions should establishments take when floodwater or runoff affects a food or water source, or a processing area?
     
  8. What technologies are appropriate for the replacement of liquid water in food production and food processing areas (i.e. foam, mist, or dry chemicals)?

 

Last Modified Sep 25, 2018